Complex security upgrade nearly ready

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 18, 2007

Contractors say a new courthouse security system could be onlineearly next week.

Shawn Gentry, of Hallmark Security of Jackson, said a projectthat installs security cameras throughout the courthouse and limitsentry to court offices and other secure areas will likely becompleted “by the end of this week or early next week at thelatest.”

The $24,700 security project was funded entirely by a federalDepartment of Homeland Security grant, said Chancery Clerk TillmonBishop.

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Gentry started installing 22 security cameras in common areas ofthe Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex about two weeksago. Eighteen of those cameras have been placed, with four othersstill to be added to the roof of the complex.

“It’s a little wet to put those in. There’s a lot of water up therenow,” he said.

The cameras cover all common areas of the courthouse and thecircuit court, but have not been installed in the county and cityboardrooms.

“There’s not a hallway that’s not covered,” Gentry said.

The cameras will be monitored by Lincoln County Sheriff’sDepartment dispatchers from the secure dispatch center of thejail.

Gentry said the company has not hooked up the monitors yet and muststill run the electrical cords from the courthouse to the jail.

There is far more to the security system than cameras, however.

“We’re doing more than just cameras. There’s a lot of stuff beingdone,” Gentry said. “We’re doing magnetic locks and card accesssystems going back to Youth Court and the district attorney’soffices.”

The card access system requires a person to swipe a card in frontof reader to unlock the door. It has been installed, but has notbeen activated because employees have not been given the cards,Gentry said.

A second reason the card access system has not been activated isGentry is still installing an intercom system that will someone inthe office who can “buzz” in a visitor.

Gentry said the last few years have seen a marked increase in thenumber of courthouses and other governmental buildings installingsecurity systems.

“It really picked up after 9-11, but it’s really booming now sincethe college shootings,” he said.

Gentry was referring to several shootings college campuses inrecent months, including one at Virginia Tech where a lone gunmankilled 32 students and faculty before killing himself.